President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking days after a controversial Kurdish independence referendum in Iraq, said Turkey would not permit a new “Lawrences of Arabia” to unsettle the region.
“Just as we did not allow the fire which burned in Syria to spread to our country, hopefully, we will stop the attempted instigation in Iraq,” Erdogan told a police graduation ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Ankara.
“New Lawrences [of Arabia] will not succeed this time, I want you all to know this,” Erdogan said referring to British spy T.S. Lawrence who was connected to the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire in First World War.
Erdogan’s remarks came as official preliminary results revealed 93 percent of voters from Monday’s referendum backed Kurdish independence, although the vote was widely criticized by the international community.
Monday's illegitimate referendum saw Iraqis in Kurdish Regional Government-controlled areas -- and in a handful of territories disputed between Erbil and Baghdad, including ethnically mixed Kirkuk and Mosul -- vote on whether or not to declare independence.
The referendum faced opposition from most international actors including Turkey, the U.S., Iran, and the UN, with many warning the poll would further destabilize the region and distract from the ongoing fight against Daesh.
Baghdad, meanwhile, has consistently said the referendum constituted a violation of Iraq's constitution.
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